(Corrects net profit figures in first and second paragraphs to reflect post tax figures; corrects headline to reflect figures)
SAO PAULO, June 10 (Reuters) - Louis Dreyfus’ Biosev, Brazil’s second-largest publicly traded sugar cane milling group, posted a final quarter net loss of 1 billion reais ($448 million) on Tuesday, 449 percent greater than the January-March period a year ago.
Struggling to turn a profit in one of the worst crises that Brazil’s sugar sector has seen since cane was first planted commercially in 1516, Biosev had a net loss of 1.47 billion reais in the 2013/14 season that closed on March 31, topping the loss of 620 million reais the year before, the company said in a securities filing.
In addition to the poor margins for sugar and ethanol which have sent dozens of mills into bankruptcy protection, cane fields that are part of Biosev’s expansion projects in Mato Grosso do Sul were damaged by frost in July of 2013.
Revenues from the group’s 10 mills during the quarter fell 11 percent from the year-ago period to 924 million reais, while operational expenses grew 173 percent to 858.4 million reais.
In its guidance, Biosev said it expected the total volume of cane that it crushes during the recently started 2014/15 season to remain little changed from last season’s 30 million tonnes. But its measure of recoverable sugars known as ATR, directly related to its yields of sugar and ethanol, is expected to rise to between 3.7 million to 4.2 million tonnes from the 3.7 million in the season that ended in March.
Now at the end of a multi-year expansion campaign in planting and mill-building and expansion in Brazil, Biosev’s net debt fell 10 percent to 3.47 billion reais from the close of the fiscal year on March 31, 2013.
Investments by the company over the past year were also down 10 percent at 1.2 billion reais due principally to the drop in expenses as part of the company’s expansion plans.
In accordance with the company’s greater emphasis on ethanol production compared with the year earlier, net revenues from sugar sales fell 8 percent to 2.2 billion reais, Biosev said.
Biosev sugar output over the 2013/14 season fell 19 percent to 1.72 million tonnes from the previous year, while ethanol production rose 21 percent to 1.15 billion liters.
Biosev’s annual total production of recoverable sugars, or ATR, fell 2.4 percent to 3.77 million tonnes, with 51 percent of that going to sugar production, down from 61 percent the year before.
Reporting by Reese Ewing; Editing by Eric Walsh